Sunday, November 12, 2006

SF and Fantasy - Playgrounds for Sexual Harassment?

Yes, it looks like it's Soap Box day! :P

A rather disturbing topic came up on one of my lists this week. One of the members posted a letter she sent to an institution she belongs to regarding cases of sexual harassment at functions held or in part sponsored by the institution. The sexual harassment itself was surprising, but more so was the institution with its members responsible for doing the harassment. (Sorry to be vague, but as some of this has not been posted to the general public, I can't disclose the name of said institution.)

Since I started reading Fantasy and Science Fiction way in my younger days, I had always thought of the genre as a progressive, humanitarian, think out of the box, type of genre. I always assumed those involved in it would also be progressive and far thinking individuals. So to find out after all this time that some in fact practice and at times even thrive on sexual harassment against their own peers--it was a big shock. I've been accused of being somewhat naive in the ways of the world before, but this truly threw me for a loop.

To make matters worse I have heard stories told of the repression of female writers by the good old boy network in the Sci-fi/Fantasy field and how it's been going on for years. I've even heard tell of others who did not approve of these actions, yet they either ignored what was going on, or did nothing about them as these practices were just part of how things were. And no one, seemingly, in such a future thinking field, has taken steps or brought up the subject as something which needs fixing.

I would have thought that Sci-fi/Fantasy writers and others involved in the field would be the spearhead in social reform and change, of open minds and attitudes, of community, and peace. And I am happy to say that in my own experience, I've not been subject to the contrary. Yet others have. And at times these individuals have been left with no recourse but to suffer through it--turning what should have been at times very festive and proud moments into experiences of dread and embarrassment. I would hope that something could be done. That those in the field can get together and support one another and not tolerate behavior which hurts others.

Can we have the bright future so many of us write about and hope for if we can't even manage to get along or protect our peers? How can we make others believe in our visions if we can't live by the very precepts we hope to establish? It is tragic that the very people who are at the forefront of imagination and the future, who inspire others on to what might be, would stoop to something so against everything they stand for. :(

End of Soap Box...
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